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Deer Park site toxins same as at 3 Islip sites, says DA

A 300-foot berm of debris seen Monday morning

A 300-foot berm of debris seen Monday morning on May 19, 2014, at the rear of a property located at 175 Brook Avenue in Babylon. The debris sits atop a sensitive wetland site, Sampawams Creek, which forms part of the watershed of the Great South Bay. Investigators from the Islip illegal dumping probe into Roberto Clemente Park, visited the Deer Park site. They are trying to determine if it is linked to their criminal investigation. Credit: James Carbone

Soil samples taken from the rear of a Deer Park property that backs on to an environmentally sensitive wetland show asbestos and other toxic materials similar to those found at other contaminated sites in Islip, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Friday.

The analysis, Spota said, showed the presence of "acutely hazardous" substances dieldrin -- a banned pesticide -- and the metal cobalt. Also present were "hazardous" substances such as the now-banned insecticide DDT, lead, arsenic, zinc and benzofluoranthene, a compound found in some petroleum-based products and a known carcinogen.

Spota's characterizing the contaminants as both "hazardous" and "acutely hazardous" refers to definitions that make their dumping a crime under New York State Environmental Conservation Law.

Detectives were led to the 6-acre property at 175 Brook Ave. after Town of Babylon officials received a tip that a pile of debris seen at the rear of the property before the criminal probe had since been ground up to form a brownish-gray dirt and placed over the back fence into the wetland. It was then graded into a berm measuring around 300 feet in length.

The property flanks Sampawams Creek, a state Department of Environmental Conservation-protected wetlands area that forms part of the Great South Bay watershed. The creek is part of the Islip-Babylon border.

"This pile of toxins is a genuine threat to the health of the Great South Bay ecosystem, a network of streams, creeks and wetlands that are protected under federal and state law," Spota said Friday.

"Sediment from the pile is washing directly into the creek and the person or persons who dumped this material is directly responsible for the contamination of a fragile marine environment protected by law."

Gerard Glass, a Babylon attorney who represents the Brook Avenue property owners, has said they were "horrible victims of circumstance."

Spota noted the site's soil analysis is consistent with similar analyses of material dumped at Brentwood's Roberto Clemente Park, at a nearby privately owned vacant lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip, and at a six-home Islandia development built for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. All four sites had material that contains semi-volatile organic compounds, pesticides and metals.

As with the town park and Islip Avenue locations, nonfriable asbestos from building materials was also evident in the debris piled over the back of the Brook Avenue property and into the wetland. "I believe the same individual and entities are responsible for this environmental crime," Spota said.

The berm contains chunks of brick and other construction-like material and slopes steeply almost 20 feet down toward the creek. In places, trunks of tree saplings in the wetland that before the dumping were exposed are buried up to 15 feet.

Investigators believe the material wound up at Brook Avenue after a Jan. 24-26 partial cleanup of the park. On those days, according to Kevin Kearon, attorney for Tom Datre Jr., Datre's firm DFF Farms Corp. removed 45 truckloads of fill from the park at the request of Islip officials. Town officials have said they did not know where that fill was taken.

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